Jami-Lee Ross homes in on Christopher Luxon's conservatism and Botany cred as race heats up

Jami-Lee Ross is homing in on Christopher Luxon's conservative views and Botany cred as the race heats up over who will win the seat in 2020.  

The fight for Botany is shaping up to be one of the most interesting of next year's election battles with the selection of the former Air New Zealand CEO as National's candidate pitted against Ross.

Now running as an independent, Ross has already started campaigning a year out, tightening the screws and questioning Luxon's Botany cred.

"If Botany's important to someone I don't know why they chose to live in Remuera instead of Botany," Ross, who resigned from National after falling out with leader Simon Bridges, told Newshub.

Similarities have been drawn - literally - between Luxon and former Prime Minister Sir John Key, who served as New Zealand's leader from 2008-2016.

But Luxon - who was selected as National's Botany candidate on Monday night made the point: "I'm not John Key, I'm Chris Luxon."

"Welcome to the jungle," Ross said.

Luxon is defending his run for Botany, saying he grew up there and knows it well.

But Ross is also homing in on Luxon’s conservative views, saying he's "not someone who comes with a socially conservative viewpoint from an evangelical church with questions around it".

Ross wouldn't say what he's heard about The Upper Room Church Luxon attends.

Luxon said his faith is a "very personal thing gives me centre, mission and purpose".

Luxon enters politics as a socially conservative candidate at a time when Parliament is staring down several social issues, including euthanasia, abortion and legalising recreational cannabis.

"Those are issues where I'm personally not up for the reform," Luxon said, when asked about his view on taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

On euthanasia, Luxon said he's similarly "against the reforms".

He's also against legalising recreational cannabis, but supports medicinal cannabis.

Botany is job number one, but Luxon is playing coy on the end game, refusing to say if he plans to take on the leadership role one day.

"We've got an awesome leader in Simon Bridges," he said. "I've got a job in front of me and as you've seen it's just started off."

National MP Judith Collins, who watched Luxon's speech on Monday night, noted how there was "a lot of talk in that speech about leadership".

Bridges said Luxon's an "excellent candidate", but "first thing's first for him obviously in Botany".

Despite Luxon - a behemoth of the business world - taking on the safe National seat of Botany, Ross is still convinced he can win, even raising the spectre of Labour voters strategically voting for him.

But senior figures in Labour have told Newshub there is no way Labour will do a deal with Ross in Botany.